Enter Roger Tomas, former Miami Hurricane and 2007 non-drafted free agent of the Detroit Tigers. Before becoming a lineup regular for the Whitecaps, the switch hitter was easily seen leaping over baselines superstitiously not to touch any for fear of bad luck. Nobody likes slumps, anyway. Either this common baseball ritual worked or he is just that good, but it wasn't long after opening day that West Michigan fans would see what the 5'8 curve killer could do.
Tomas became a regular starter for the Whitecaps early on in the season. Almost right away he started giving ‘Caps fans well worth the price of admission. May 22-23, Tomas on back-to-back nights hit the game winning run for the Whitecaps. May 25, he was named Midwest Player of the Week for the week of May 19-25, after hitting .550 (11-for-20) in six games. June 15, the Hurricane alum ended his hitting streak at 13 games, tied with former 'Cap Joe Tucker, but far behind Robert Fick, who holds the Whitecaps record, hitting safely in 32 consecutive games in the 1997 season.
"I just want to continue that streak of just playing everyday." Tomas said. "The only way that's gonna happen is just for me to hit, not so much for me to hit .340 or something, just playing good baseball in general."
Born in the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tomas learned the game early on by his grandfather. His grandfather, a Dominican born throw back to old time baseball, has seen is share of greats come up through the minors to make the bigs.
"He's one of those guys that has put all his energy into making me succeed," Tomas said. "He's not a guy that yells, but he's always looking out for my best interest."
During his college years Tomas— while majoring in Criminology— grew as an elite player on the Hurricanes much talked about 2004-2007 teams. His freshman year, however, Tomas was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, which is an intestinal disease that effects the gastrointestinal tract.
"I was diagnosed my freshman year in college, 2004." Tomas said.
Although it's more mental than physical, he claims he still has to take precautions to avoid anything mishaps.
"I give myself a shot twice a month and I haven't had a problem with that this whole year." Tomas claims.
Hurricane manager Jim Morris named Tomas captain of the team in his senior year. He would finish his last college season in 2007, playing utility man rather than his usual shortstop, and was honored with Miami's Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Tomas enjoyed the University of Miami very much, and to this day recollects his years as a collegiate athlete at Mark Light Field.
"I think everyone comes there because they want to be in the limelight. Tomas recollected. " It's a school that you know will appear in the College World Series at least once in your four years, and everybody wants to win."
Tomas played in 32 games for the Gulf Coast League Tigers hitting .243 (27-for-111) with two home runs and 13 RBI before joining West Michigan for the 2008 campaign. He's a versatile player with much durability and upside for any manager. He has floated throughout West Michigan's lineup batting as low as nine and as high as three.
"It doesn't matter to me," Tomas said. "I'm getting more opportunities driving in runners in the three spot, but I think they're pitching to me about the same."
His number seven has been seen at a variety of positions: shortstop, third, outfield and designated hitter at times. Though playing shortstop— the majority of his baseball life— Tomas can appreciate just being in the everyday lineup.
"I just want to play as much as I can," Tomas said. "I want to be in there full-time, which I have been."
Tomas is now starting the second half of the season with the Whitecaps on the disabled list but hopes to carry his big bat through the rest of the MWL season, but he knows the plain truth of baseball and puts everything in simple terms that doesn't make his profession too complicated.
"If you're hot, you're up there, if you're not, than you're down there, it's just how it goes." Tomas said.